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The 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine attracted the attention of the international community and became known as the Orange Revolution. The Orange Revolution symbolized the birth of civil society in Ukraine and created a feeling of great optimism. However, nearly half of the population voted for Vik-tor Yanukovych and disapproved of the Orange Revolution. They not only voted for another candidate, but also voted in a totally different manner, making their choice based on different criteria in accordance with a different set of values and orientations. It would be naive to attribute millions of votes for Yanukovych only to falsifications. This article explores the question of why Donbass, Yanukovych's stronghold, almost unanimously voted for him. Donbass is terra incognita for many Ukrainians and the broader international community. A significant number of Ukrainians envision an industrial Donbass based on old stereotypes. This article considers these stereotypes, the history of their development, and their influence on the electoral campaign. It addresses important characteristics such as roots, culture, the concept of the Donbass character, and the mass media's role in shaping public opinion. This article asserts that despite Yanukovych's loss, Don-bass business and political elites still have the potential to influence major socioeconomic processes in the country and see their future only within Ukraine.
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Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych:
Confronting the Ukrainian
Orange Revolution
Abstract: The 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine attracted the attention of
the international community and became known as the Orange Revolution. The
Orange Revolution symbolized the birth of civil society in Ukraine and created a
feeling of great optimism. However, nearly half of the population voted for Vik-
tor Yanukovych and disapproved of the Orange Revolution. They not only voted
for another candidate, but also voted in a totally different manner, making their
choice based on different criteria in accordance with a different set of values and
orientations. It would be naive to attribute millions of votes for Yanukovych only
to falsifications. This article explores the question of why Donbass,Yanukovych’s
stronghold, almost unanimously voted for him. Donbass is terra incognita for
many Ukrainians and the broader international community. A significant number
of Ukrainians envision an industrial Donbass based on old stereotypes. This arti-
cle considers these stereotypes, the history of their development, and their influ-
ence on the electoral campaign. It addresses important characteristics such as
roots, culture, the concept of the Donbass character, and the mass media’s role in
shaping public opinion. This article asserts that despite Yanukovych’s loss, Don-
bass business and political elites still have the potential to influence major socioe-
conomic processes in the country and see their future only within Ukraine.
Key words: Donbass, elections, local identity, Orange Revolution, stereotypes,
he 2004 presidential election in Ukraine attracted the attention of the interna-
tional community and became known as the Orange Revolution. This extra-
ordinary event in the political life of the post-Soviet world, along with the pre-
Ararat L. Osipian is a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University. Alexandr L. Osipian is an
associate professor of history and anthropology at the Kramatorsk University of Econom-
ics and Humanities. Copyright © 2006 Heldref Publications
ceding socioeconomic and geopolitical transformations in Ukraine, are reflected
in a considerable block of literature, of which we would give special credit to the
works of Kuzio (1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005),1Karatnycky (2005),2Matsuzato
(2001, 2005),3Niculae and Popescu (2001),4Shulman (1998, 2002,5Stepanenko
(2005),6Wilson (1995, 2002, 2005),7 Zimmer (2004),8and others. These authors
present different aspects of political life and major political events in Ukraine’s
social, economic, and other contexts. Most of the research until now has focused
on the democratic process of the Orange Revolution, while views, and, more
important, the reasons why eastern Ukraine consistently votes for its candidate are
unknown, at least in the ethno-cultural context of the region. The March 2006 par-
liamentary election results show that their choice is not accidental, but consistent
and well grounded. This article attempts to answer the question concerning the
cultural grounds and the role of the media in Donbass’s voting pattern.
A quote that comes from the work of Niculae and Popescu, published in 2001,
perfectly describes the future of political life in Ukraine:
Presidential elections of 2004 will hardly become a moment of final choice, as the
basis of conflict between political elites lies not in competition of political forces
but in national self-identification. The elections will only define the direction of its
development in short-range or maybe in medium-range outlook. They will display
the current psychological situation in society. More over, the elections will legiti-
mate the process of political elite rotation.9
There are often comments by well-known politicians, journalists, and ordinary
citizens who are not indifferent to the political events that appear on the central
TV stations, in the newspaper Day, and in other media outlets. These commen-
tators talk about the birth of the Ukrainian political nation and civil society in
Ukraine with great optimism. One may get the impression that these commenta-
tors and supporters of Viktor Yushchenko do not take into consideration the fact
that nearly half of the population voted for Viktor Yanukovych, who served as
prime minister from November 2002 to December 2004, and condemned the
Orange Revolution. The truth is that almost half of all voters (12,848,087, or 44
percent) not only voted for another candidate, but also voted in a totally different
manner, basing their choice on different criteria in accordance with different val-
ues and orientations. Thus, it would be too early to talk about the creation of a
political nation. It may be only the beginning of such a process. It would be naive
to attribute millions of votes for Yanukovych only to falsifications. Falsifications
are an object for investigation by the courts and district attorneys.10 Scholars
should admit that in the predominantly Russian-speaking east and in some of the
south, Yanukovych was the obvious leader. The majority of his supporters, almost
4.5 million, are concentrated in the Donetska and Luhanska oblasts.
Why did Donbass almost unanimously vote for Yanukovych? Most of the
attempts to answer this question stay within the limits of ideas about the zombi-
fication of the region’s population. The real fundamental preconditions of the
Donbass phenomenon have yet to be examined. Donbass is still terra incognita
for the majority of Ukrainians. It is not a resort area such as the Carpathians or
the Crimea, where people come to rest; it is not Kyiv, where people go to resolve
their administrative issues; and there are no renowned historical or architectural
sites such as one can find in Lviv, Lutsk, or Kamenets-Podilski. That is why a
significant number of Ukrainians envision Donbass based on their old established
stereotypes.11 On the other hand, a significant part of Donbass’s population also
exist within the limits of stereotypes about the other regions of the country. The
people who live in Kyiv and the western part of Ukraine are often surprised when
they visit Donbass for the first time because their stereotypes are not commen-
surate with the reality. This article considers these stereotypes, the history of their
development, and their influence on the 2004 electoral campaign.
Donbass: Roots, Culture, and Character
Donbass is a Donetsk coal basin that began developing in the early 1860s. This coal
basin occupies a central part of the Donetsk oblast, southern parts of the Luhansk
oblast, and western parts of the Rostovskaya oblast, which belongs to the Russian
Federation. This area, with its mines, rising waste banks, miners’settlements, work-
ers’ settlements, plants and factories, and developed railroad network, is the real
Donbass. It is so densely populated that it is difficult to say where exactly one town
ends and another begins. This mosaic of cities, settlements, mines, and plants
stretches from Donetsk to Luhansk, creating the appearance of a whole region. On
the other hand, the Luhansk oblast mostly consists of rural areas devoid of indus-
try. The same is true for the southern part of the Donetsk oblast. It is all country-
side with endless fields of sunflowers. Mariupol—a seaport located on the shores
of the Azov Sea and a large center of black metallurgy—is the only city in this area.
The northern part of the Donetsk oblast consists of industrial cities, villages, agri-
cultural fields, and forests. In rural areas many villagers still speak Ukrainian, espe-
cially older people. Thus, the landscape and population of the region are very
diverse. Therefore, one of the most significant mistakes is the application of the
name Donbass to the entire territory of the two oblasts.
Another stereotype is that Donbass is a uniquely urbanized region. Indeed, the
majority of the population live in cities and towns. On the other hand, the living
conditions are not much different from those in the countryside and are often
lower, depending on environmental conditions. The majority of the population in
the cities and towns live in private houses with small backyards and kitchen gar-
dens. In miners’ settlements, living conditions are especially poor. Cities lack
well-developed architectural planning. The history of cities in the region started
from the building of a plant or a mine where the workers were settlers from near-
by settlements. Gradually, the construction of multistory apartment complexes
began to replace neighborhoods with private housing, and settlements trans-
formed into towns. Such contrasts still exist. That is why it is easy to see a typi-
cal rural landscape with sometimes surprisingly poor, private houses just a few
hundred yards from downtown Donetsk or Luhansk. Most of the cities are young
and do not have metropolitan features. This explains why the people in the most
urbanized region have features similar to rural areas as far as living standards and
culture are concerned. Interestingly, the popularity of different occult spiritual
and magic beliefs inherited from the pagan epoch puts the population of the
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 497
region in a leading position even when compared with the western and predom-
inantly agrarian regions of Ukraine, which are popular among ethnographers.
Traditional chiropractors and fortune-tellers are popular and many of them are
quite young. One can see a poster reading “folk chiropractic” with a phone num-
ber right on the balcony of a multistory apartment complex. In other regions of
Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church made a substantial effort to eradicate rudi-
ments of the pagan culture. In Donbass, this effort was insignificant. Soviet-style
atheism limited the influence of Christianity, but it did not influence the popula-
tion’s pagan consciousness. Nevertheless, the people of Donbass consider them-
selves to be cosmopolitan and tend to have a certain degree of arrogance in regard
to the rest of Ukraine, which, in their view, is just countryside. From this point
of view, large Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv, Kharkov, and Odessa are not
Ukraine. This line of thinking may cause people to think that the Donbass men-
tality is both arrogant and irrational.
Ukrainians started to settle in the northern part of the Donetsk and Luhansk
oblasts—so-called Slobozhanshina—in the seventeenth century, and in the west-
ern parts of the Donetsk oblast or Kalmuska Palanka Zaporozhskogo Viyska (Reg-
iment of the Ukrainian Cossack Military order) in the eighteenth century. In 1778,
Crimean Greeks migrated to the Northern Azov territories and established the city
of Mariupol and numerous villages. The beginning of the exploitation of the
region’s natural resources in the 1860s resulted in a significant influx of Ukraini-
ans and Russians.12 Collectivization and industrialization during the 1920s and
1930s led to further population growth. Refugees from Ukraine and the neighbor-
ing regions in Russia fled their villages in search of a better life and moved to Don-
bass at that time. They settled mostly in the territories that constitute the real Don-
bass, i.e., the Donetsk coal basin. A common characteristic of all the migrants was
that they built their lives from scratch and relied only on themselves. This charac-
teristic lead to the formation of certain features attributed to the population of Don-
bass: individualism up to social Darwinism, tough styles of behavior, respect for
force, high value of labor culture, and a focus on issues of material well-being.
Collectivization resulted in property loss, which led to feelings of anger, while
an attempt to build one’s own well-being led to defensiveness. In the words of a
local poet: “No one has ever put Donbass down on its knees, and no one ever
will.” The absence of any significant state control in the newly occupied territo-
ries, until the beginning of the twentieth century, created an atmosphere of legal
nihilism. A substantial part of the population, which arrived from a variety of
places, are missing features common to traditional communities, features such as
religious beliefs, mercy, respect for older people, and so forth.
In many parts of Ukraine, imprisonment carries a stigma and is an embar-
rassment for an individual. In Donbass, however, it is not taboo and people tend
to consider spending time in prison an opportunity to enrich one’s personal expe-
rience, especially in one’s youth. Moreover, in Donbass, serving a prison sentence
is considered the equivalent of serving in the military. When a man enters the mil-
itary, his older friends, who have already served in the military, tell him: “Keep
the trademark of Donbass,” meaning, “People from Donbass are always first, so
do not let anyone equal to you control you and demonstrate Donbass-type char-
acter. Donetsk and Luhansk are the only oblasts in which, following the tradi-
tion, the friends of a man who goes into the military paint on the walls of apart-
ment complexes: “Waiting on so-and-so in 2002” (i.e., “Waiting on Serega in
2003”). The city authorities do not wash the slogans away and they are visible on
the walls for many years. One can also see slogans such as “Waiting on Jesus,”
but no exact date is specified. This indicates that, unlike the traditional Slavic cul-
ture, Protestant denominations exist in the context of Donbass’s traditions. Inter-
estingly, American-style graffiti is nonexistent in Donbass.
Donbass: Local Identity and
Political Culture
The diversity of the region’s
population has led to the
absence of a community con-
sciousness. The stratification of
society took place based on peo-
ple’s affiliation with industries
and later with influence from
the Soviet state. A specific Don-
bass identity formed over time.
The principle of compatriotism
is the basis of this identity. Donbass is very inclusive and accommodates everyone
who settles there. Donbass offers people certain cultural standards and fast assimi-
lation. This explains why national and cultural communities and clubs are almost
nonexistent in Donbass. On the other hand, people born in Donbass, or who spend
most of their life there, preserve their collective solidarity and regional identity, i.e.,
exclusivity.13 One of the best examples of this is the presence of a Donbass com-
munity in Moscow14 that exists separately from the Ukrainian community. At the
same time, there is not a Kyiv, Poltava, or Dnepropetrovsk community in Moscow.
It is difficult to imagine Greeks from Thessalonica or Crete in New York existing
separately from the Greek community, or that there would be a Saxon community
existing parallel with a German community. Donbass positions itself not only as a
separate part of Ukraine, but also as equal to it.
The speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Lytvyn, stated the main rea-
son for Yanukovych’s defeat in the presidential elections: “He could not become
Kyiv’s own man.”15 Yanukovych failed to become the national leader. Maybe he
did not have enough time. He failed to become “Kyiv’s own man” and the elites
in Kyiv did not accept him. Yanukovych grew up in the region that shapes a cer-
tain psychological type of politician who tends to search for a simple solution to
any problem. This type of politician does not compromise. In fact, there are no
leaders in Ukraine who grew up in Donbass, except, probably, Oleg Liashko.16
Donbass has always tried to stand on its own in the Moscow-Kyiv-Donetsk tri-
angle, before and after 1991.17 After Ukraine declared independence, the balance
of power between Moscow, Kyiv, and Donbass did not favor the latter. Kyiv is a
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 499
“In Donbass, however, it is not taboo
and people tend to consider spending
time in prison an opportunity to
enrich one’s personal experience,
especially in one’s youth.”
center of bureaucracy where one must go to settle different issues, resolve prob-
lems, and request money from the central budget. The central budget is formed in
Kyiv and Donbass contributes more to it than it receives. The people who live Don-
bass believe this to be the case.18 They also believe that Kyiv is responsible for the
arrears in wages, social transfers, and other payments from the central budget to
the region. All of these characteristics help form a negative image of Kyiv. On the
other hand, people from Donbass go to Moscow for shopping and higher paying
jobs. In contrast to Kyiv, Moscow is a major producer of TV programs, shows,
books, and newspapers, i.e., popular culture. Moscow is a good example for Don-
bass in producing this popular culture. This contributes to the positive image of
Moscow in Donbass. Donbass often underlines its independence from Kyiv in its
relations with Moscow. Russian newspapers such as Argumenty i Fakty and Kom-
somolskaya Pravda are printed with the titles Argumenty i Fakty in Ukraine and
Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine, while in Donbass they are distributed under
the titles Argumenty i Fakty in Donbass and Komsomolskaya Pravda in Donbass.
A symbol of Donbass known as the “Palm of Mertsalov,” made at the end of the
nineteenth century from a monolithic metal bar, is located in St. Petersburg with
replicas set up in Donetsk, Moscow, and Toronto. In the early 1990s, a replica of
Tsar Pushka19 sat in front of the central administration building in Donetsk. The
replica, a gift from the mayor of Moscow, is an example of Moscow and Donetsk
developing their relations independent of Kyiv.
The language issue is a source of enmity between eastern and western Ukraine.
It has been given substantial coverage by the Ukrainian state and media.20 There
are two particular aspects of language, or, more specifically, choice of language:
its usage in the mass media during the German occupation, and preferences of
the population as related to the status of Russian language in Ukraine. Armstrong
notes that
. . . in a large number of cities in the Donbass, including Slaviansk, Artemovsk
(Bakhmut), Debal’tsevo, and Snezhnoe, the Russians succeeded in establishing a
cultural ascendancy without, however, its taking on much political significance.
This ascendancy included, in particular, the publication of Russian-language
newspapers, which, as a rule, were not allowed in the former Ukrainian Soviet
Views on the status of the Russian language in different regions of Ukraine are
presented in table 1.22
Data presented in the table clearly indicate a preference toward the Russian
language in eastern Ukraine. The Kharkivska oblast, as well as several other
oblasts, has already declared Russian an official regional language, while in the
Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, Russian is used continuously.
Even time was used to indicate aspirations for autonomy and self-governance.
This visible process took place in all the possible dimensions, indeed. In the early
1990s, when Ukraine switched to Kyiv standard time, the Donetsk and Luhansk
oblasts used Moscow standard time for two more years. Donbass’s isolation from
Kyiv is growing. At first it was almost invisible, especially in Kyiv or Lviv, and
existed mostly in the economic sphere. During the 1990s, Donetsk businessmen
changed their positions in the region, while using the Communist Party of Ukraine
(KPU), led by Piotr Symonenko, as a convenient curtain. Symonenko was also from
Donbass. Donetsk business lived by the principle: “we do not touch you and you
do not touch us,” maintaining the status quo. It is a well-known fact that in Ukraine
political parties are formed to supplement influential business groups, or, if they
emerged at the very beginning of independence, they sought partnerships with big
business. Based on this, Donetsk business groups isolated the region from outside
political influence by fencing off the region from outside businesses. This self-
imposed economic and political isolation resulted in cultural isolation. During the
2002 parliamentary elections, pro-presidential parties (that is, pro-Kuchma) such
as the Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (United) recognized that it is difficult to
work in Donbass. Even though some of the parties have offices in the region, their
activities are always insignificant and invisible. The specific political culture of
Donbass has been shaped in these conditions of isolation.23 The core of this polit-
ical culture can be expressed in the slogan: “Donbass votes for its own people.
The Ukrainian political elite have overlooked Donbass. Ukrainian politicians
have been living with the stereotypes of a Red Donbass that votes for Commu-
nists and miners that block railroads and hold protest meetings under the walls
of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) for too long.
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 501
TABLE 1. Views on the Status of the Russian Language in Ukraine, 2004
Region of Ukraine (%)
What should the state Ukraine as West- East-
policy on Russia be? a whole West Central Central East South
Russian should be
banished from the
official sphere 15 55 6 4 2 10
Russian should be
made the second
official language in
oblasts where it has
majority support 40 30 44 23 47 52
Russian should be
made the second
official language of
the country 40 8 45 69 49 29
Other 1 1 1 1 0 0
Difficult to say 4 6 4 3 1 7
Source. “Ukraina: Pole Mnenij, Sociologicheskie soobshenija Fonda “Obshestvennoe mnenie,
2004, 1, 42 (cited in Lapkin and Pantin 2005, 8).
Indeed, Donbass businessmen operated in the Communist Party’s shadow. The
situation changed at the end of the 1990s. In the second round of the 1999 pres-
idential elections, the Donetsk oblast voted overwhelmingly for Kuchma. This
was not the case in the other oblasts in the east and south.24 Kuchma adjusted eco-
nomic policy to the region accordingly.
While Donbass’s newspapers criticized Kuchma before 1999, after 1999 they
directed their criticism toward Kyiv in general, attacking the bureaucracy and fis-
cal policies that are unfavorable to the mining industry’s development.
Criticism of Kyiv stopped with the appointment of Yanukovych as prime min-
ister. In 2002, Donetsk business completely moved out of the shadows of the
KPU. Candidates from the Party Regions of Ukraine (PR) received the deputy
mandates in twenty-one out of twenty-two majoritarian electoral districts.25 The
KPU received 29.78 percent of the votes by the party lists. As a consequence, the
leader of the KPU, Symonenko, suddenly started speaking Ukrainian, posing as
a representative of the interests of all of Ukraine, not only the eastern and south-
ern regions. Donetsk businesses are moving outside of the oblast’s limits and
starting to expand their economic influence in the Luhansk and Sumy oblasts and
in the Crimea. The head of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Boris Deych, has
lived in Donbass for a long time.
The economic power of Donbass’s business was not commensurate with its
weak political presence. Simply put, Donbass’s political elites demanded ade-
quate political representation. The Dnepropetrovsk clan, led by Kuchma and his
son-in-law, Viktor Pinchuk, took power in 1994. In 2004, the Donetsk clan came
to power. The population of Donbass were politically passive. People voted for a
candidate endorsed by the director of their plant or mine, i.e., for the KPU or for
the director himself. Ordinary people in Donbass believe that the Donetsk clan,
along with the Dnepropetrovsk and Kyiv clans, is being confronted by the eco-
nomically underdeveloped and nationalistic western part of Ukraine. This con-
frontation is colored with all the Bandera stereotypes inherited from Soviet times.
For the people of Donbass, western Ukraine starts right behind Kyiv, or where
people speak Ukrainian. Even people who moved from the Kyiv oblast to Don-
bass after the Chernobyl catastrophe are regarded as westerners. After the Cherni-
hiv and Sumy oblasts gave a majority of their votes to Yushchenko, they were also
regarded as pro-Western.
For the people of Donbass, it is normal that the candidate supported by the
industrial east always wins. In 1991 it was Leonid Kravchuk, and in 1994 and 1999
it was Kuchma. From their point of view, this made sense because heavy indus-
tries are concentrated in the east. The Soviet times taught them that heavy indus-
try constitutes the backbone of the economy and that the consumer goods and ser-
vice industries are secondary to it. Accordingly, official Soviet propaganda
portrayed miners and metal workers as the “guard of labor.
During the presidential campaign, Yanukovych positioned himself as an advo-
cate of the interests of the entire Ukraine. In Donbass, he based his campaign on
the idea of the Donbass character. It is convenient to consider the presidential cam-
paign following the publications in the newspaper Golos Donbassa (Voice of Don-
bass). In the fall of 2004, hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed on the
streets and delivered to mailboxes free of charge. The first five issues contained
articles by V. Zablotski, a Donetsk National University professor of philosophy,
titled “Donbass Is the Region with Character. Zablotski defined Donbass’s char-
acter as the following: “Donbass character means courageous obeying of a duty,
of an authority of the collective-fraternity, the opinion of which you value and
where you are equal to the other and you should do the work. In Zablotski’s opin-
ion, the shaping of the Donbass character began with the industrialization of the
region. He writes: “The features of our Donbass character and Donetsk patriotism
were shaping first of all in connection with emerging and developing heavy indus-
try in southern parts of Russia in the mid 19 century.26 Most of Donbass’s popu-
lation believe this, which leads to the notion that Donbass voluntarily joined
Ukraine on March 19, 1918. However, this approach ignores the Cossack period
in the region’s history during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Indeed, the Donetsk-Krivorozsk Republic, which only existed for several
months, and Bolshevik Artem Sergeyev, Donbass’s founding father, have a spe-
cial place in Donbass mythology. Lenin disapproved of the establishment of the
republic and Donbass’s character did not forgive him for it. During the Soviet era,
Artem was the most popular name among the male population, while Vladimir
was very rare. There were several cities named after the leaders of the Commu-
nist Party: Stalino (previously Yuzovka and now Donetsk), Zhdanov (now Mari-
upol), Voroshilovgrad (now Luhansk), Artemovsk, and others. At the same time,
there was no place named after the leader of the world proletariat.
After the dismissal of Stalin’s personality cult, cities were gradually renamed
or regained their original names. For instance, Stalino was named Donetsk in
1962. Artemovsk never regained its original prerevolutionary name, Bagmut.
Moreover, in almost every city the main street was named after Lenin, but in
Donetsk the main street is named after Artem. At the very end a street named
Illicha intersects it.27 This shows that even during the Soviet era, Donbass’s char-
acter exuded independence.28
Donbass: Mass Media and Public Opinions
The last paragraph in Zablotski’s article has the subtitle: “What about tomorrow?
Or the Donbass dream.” Tomorrow is expressed as: “It is necessary to build our
Donetsk (Donbass) dream with mutual efforts.29 In the same issue with a refer-
ence to the newspaper Donetsky Kriazh (Donetsk Highlands), an unauthored
piece states the following: “There is no vacuum in politics. Those who have been
trying to suppress and destroy the historical mission of Donbass over the last
decades are now trying to fill this emerged political vacuum.” Editors of the news-
paper do not specify what kind of historical mission for Donbass they have in
mind. Maybe this is because it is something commonly known in Donbass? The
other materials published in the newspaper make clear who tried to destroy the
historical mission.
Every issue of Golos Donbassa contains a special rubric under the general title
“Elections 2004: The Voice of Donbass Decides. There are numerous, brief inter-
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 503
views with the ordinary people of Donbass in the rubric. From their answers to
the question, “Who would you not vote for under any circumstances?, it is clear
that they would never vote for the opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, because
he regards Donbass as second-class and its population as servants, villains, and
second-class citizens, and so if Yushchenko should become president they would
end up in a reservation.30 Zimmer points out that Yanukovych has, for his own
purposes, manipulated and exploited Donbass’s complex regional identity.31
People who live in Donbass say that they will never vote for Yushchenko by
expressing the following opinions on his politics: “Because his policy is one
of a gangster. [He] is recruiting youth for his gangster-type settlings, and “I
do not like his policy, his
methods of work, when he
organizes all those meetings,
demonstrations, and provokes
people.”32 Yushchenko has
not done anything for Don-
bass. Respondents expressed
a strong intent to vote for
Yanukovych because he is
“our own, from Donbass.
Letters published in the Golos
Donbassa contain more com-
prehensive explanations for Yanukovych’s support. An economist living in
Gorlovka said that:
I absolutely support Yanukovych. Why?—Because his base consists of the nation-
al bourgeoisie. This national bourgeoisie has grown from the Soviet directors of
enterprises and is indivisible from the means of production. The means of produc-
tion are not portable and can not be stolen and sold abroad. Thus the national bour-
geoisie does not have a choice but to invest in the development of the national econ-
omy or otherwise the stream of profits will end sooner or later. This constitutes the
major difference between the national bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie-tymoshen-
ki,33 whose business is to pump all the wealth out of the country without giving any-
thing in exchange.34
Mutual allegations were numerous and harsh, indeed.35
Negative attitudes toward the Orange Revolution among Donbass’s population
are obvious. Although 58.2 percent of the respondents in the west and 41.9 per-
cent of respondents in central Ukraine regard the Orange Revolution as a con-
scious struggle of the people to protect their rights, only 23 percent of the respon-
dents in the south and 17.3 percent of the respondents in the east have the same
attitude. Not surprisingly, 46.5 percent of the respondents in the south and 54.1
percent of the respondents in the east consider the Orange Revolution a coup d’e-
tat, either organized with Western support or prepared by political opposition.36
The mass media in Donbass challenged Yushchenko in a variety of ways.37 For
instance, on the eve of the first round of presidential elections an anonymous arti-
cle titled “Ukrainian Fascism—The Terrible Truth” appeared in the Golos Don-
“For the people of Donbass, western
Ukraine starts right behind Kyiv, or
where people speak Ukrainian. Even
people who moved from the Kyiv
oblast to Donbass after the Cher-
nobyl catastrophe are regarded as
bassa. The article described the activities of OUN-UPA, anti–Soviet guerilla mil-
itary organizations that opposed the Fascist occupation in western Ukraine, and
gave quotes from the memoirs of Polish people who survived the Volyn’ tragedy
of 1943.38 A small remark at the end of the article informed readers that today
nationalist organizations support Yushchenko.
After the first round of the elections on October 31, 2004, when, according to
the statistics of the Central Election Committee, Yushchenko was half a percent
ahead of Yanukovych, Golos Donbassa published an article titled “The Second
Round: The East against the West.” In this article, Shtil says that:
Voting in the first round confirms the development of the events under the scenario:
“candidate of the East against the candidate of the West.” Eastern and most of the
central regions of Ukraine gave their votes to Yanukovych while western Ukraine
voted for Yushchenko. A clear geographic split takes place based on the principle
of distance from Russia and United Europe.39
There was a map under the article titled “Ukraine Has Split, which depicted
regions painted in two colors, depending on the results of the vote. However, the
map did not name the nearby countries because, if it had, readers would have seen
that the Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts that border Russia voted for Yushchenko,
while the Odessa oblast gave a majority of its votes to Yanukovych, despite the
fact that it borders Romania, a member of NATO. The same issue contained the
following information:
The majority of those who were marching in the columns under the Orange flags
are people who not only have failed to adapt to the surrounding reality, but also
aggressively condemn the larger part of Ukrainian citizens who have finally learned
to survive in this environment. It is exactly their faces grimaced with anger, that we
will be able to see at all levels of the vertical axis of power in case of a victory for
Yushchenko. Today they are pawns to the King. Tomorrow can bring them power
and money. To be more precise: power over us and our money.40
The next issue of the newspaper contained a map of a divided Ukraine with
the caption “Who Will Win?” on the front page and an article titled “Where Is
Your Character, Donbass?” The unknown author of the front-page article
addressed readers with the following question: “You have not expected such a
result for the first round, dear reader, have you? . . . The low political literacy of
many western Ukrainians played a role. They answered the question, ‘why are
you giving your vote to Yushchenko?’ by saying, ‘Well, everyone does. Accord-
ing to the author,Yushchenko’s significant advantage is due to a high-level of par-
ticipation—more than 80 percent—in western Ukraine. In the Donetsk oblast, the
turnout was around 74 percent. The author appeals to the readers with a call to
participate in the second round:
Man of Donbass! Did you forget how Yushchenko called us “lackeys” or “servants”
during his visit to Donetsk a year ago?41 Don’t you understand that in the case of
his victory he will “tear apart” the independent region? Don’t you see how they
make us enemies of Ukraine while we maintain its well-being? Will you allow exter-
minating yourself? No? Then do not sit on the couch hoping that everything will
get settled without your voice!42
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 505
In the same issue, observers from Donbass share their views on the election
campaign in western Ukraine. They say that people took them well, but they got
an impression that people in western Ukraine are morally suppressed and the TV
sets only receive programs from Poland. They learn from Polish TV programs
about the events in Ukraine. Readers of the Golos Donbassa believe that
“Yushchenko leads a very active presidential campaign in the West and we
should do the same here. It will be scary if Yushchenko should come to power.
American troops will enter the country and will impose their rules. We must
remind people about this on a regular basis, and, “Yanukovych has already done
a lot for Donbass and for the country and he now only needs more consistency.43
In a November 12, 2005, issue of Golos Donbassa readers stated that “But we
also need a high level of agitation and more information about him. Yushchenko
tries hard to literally shake out votes from the people. [They] go to hospitals,
universities, while we do not do anything. And he conceals this, but we should
do it openly.44 The people of Donbass are starting to wake up and the Donbass
character is becoming active. “The people of Donbass are always first and we
can’t lose. The people become politically active and involved in the confronta-
tion with the rival and his aggressive supporters. The last page of the issue con-
cludes with a lengthy article titled, “Plans of Yushchenko: We Will be Buried in
the Nuclear Grave.45
On November 21, 2004, after the announcement of Yanukovych’s second
round electoral victory, Golos Donbassa posted opinions commonly expressed in
Donbass regarding student involvement in the pro-Yushchenko demonstrations in
Kyiv: “Of course, there are a lot of fooled youth, but they will decide nothing.
The decision depends on us—people of the east of the country, and first of all
Donbass. And we are not as politically passive as people use to think. The sec-
ond round showed what we can do. As the leader of the Slavic Party, O. Bazi-
lyuk, who is from Donbass, characterized it: “These are youth which in the early
1990s was not attending school yet, and now these youth have been brought up
in the spirit of hatred against ‘easterners’ and ‘moskali’46.”47
Every issue of the Golos Donbassa devoted central pages to the presidential
elections. Here are some of those news headlines that can serve as a good indi-
cator of the dynamics of the presidential campaign in Donbass:
“Vote with Donbass in Your Heart.48
“October 31 Is the Day of Presidential Elections. Choose the Right to Live for
After the first round: “Donbass Is Winning. Your Voice Is Needed.”50
“Shared Destiny. Good Choice. Donbass Will Win.”51
After the second round: “Congratulations on Your Victory, Donbass [in Russ-
ian] Congratulations on Your Victory, Ukraine [in Ukrainian].”52
This does not represent a chronology of the presidential elections, but rather
an open conflict with an unknown enemy. At the same time, Donbass shares its
victory with Ukraine. The stakes are made on the Donbass character, i.e., the peo-
ple of Donbass are always first and Donbass and Ukraine are equals. Congratu-
lations on the victory are even made in two different languages.
Real and Imagined Separatism: Manipulations of the Public’s Opinion
On November 27, 2004, many cities in Donbass held meetings in support of
Yanukovych. Organizers of the meetings assured participants that the “brown-
orange” plague53 was moving toward Donbass. Calls for autonomy for Donbass
and the other eastern and southern regions enthused the majority of the popula-
tion: “We will survive without them, but they won’t.54 However, the Donbass’s
people enthusiasm, based on the region’s self-sufficiency, declined after police
in the Sumska and Poltavska oblasts stopped and turned back Donetsk trucks
sent to buy potatoes (a staple in Ukraine).55 This indicates that Ukraine already
exists as a form of federacy. These so-called “potato wars” are not new. In 1996,
the Donetsk business community forced the governor of the oblast, Viktor
Sherban, out of the region. Shortly thereafter, Kuchma made him the governor
of the Sumska oblast. Sherban, offended by the act of his compatriots and for-
mer business partners, instructed the Sumska oblast’s traffic police not to let
trucks with Donetsk plates to enter the Sumska oblast. As a result, Donbass had
to import potatoes from the Belgorod oblast in Russia until the administrations
of the respective oblasts resolved the situation.
In an attempt to regulate inflated prices on certain products, oblast governors
create numerous administrative obstacles for importing goods from other oblasts,
which helps local markets avoid competition.
In this context, the notorious convention held in Severodonetsk on November
26, 2004, in which some deputies and governors from the pro-Yanukovych east
and south called for autonomy, should be seen as an attempt to legally verify an
already existing way of doing things and to distribute powers rather than trying
to secede. Some deputies and governors used separatist rhetoric to prevent
Yushchenko and his supporters from taking power in Kyiv. Complex agreements
signed in the Verkhovna Rada on December 8, 2004, indicate that the compro-
mise has been achieved and regional administrators and businessmen will have
control over their regions after the reform of local self-governance that began in
2005 is completed.
Donbass’s leaders clearly understand that they are more influential in Ukraine
than in Russia. Moreover, Donbass’s mining industry receives subsidies from
Kyiv. For some parts of Ukraine, it is more economically rational to import coal
from Poland and Russia than to buy it from Donbass, but the government con-
tinues to subsidize some ineffective mines to avoid social problems. Hypotheti-
cally, if Donbass united with Russia, a number of Donbass’s mines would be
closed and its metal plants would face rough competition from their powerful
Russian counterparts. In these circumstances, owners of the metal industry and
Yanukovych’s supporters would not have the protection and support of the gov-
ernment they enjoy now.
Lapkin and Pantin characterize the situation in Donbass in the following way:
The eastern macroregion (primarily the Donbass), a kind of Soviet industrial
enclave inside independent Ukraine, has proved to be the least prepared for life
under liberal market conditions. Although it surpasses all other regions in terms of
resources, infrastructure, and capital assets, it cannot manage without paternalistic
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 507
attention from the center. The systemic incompatibility between the Soviet indus-
trial complex and the new state’s economic policy and economic priorities has pre-
determined the region’s economic, social, political, and ethnocultural troubles. A
major contradiction in sociopolitical attitudes prevails here: profound dissatisfac-
tion with the current situation (expressed in steady support for the “implacable left
wing”), combined with intense engagement in national politics as the main source
of political opposition to the course of building a nation-state.56
Separatist rhetoric aside, it appears that Donbass’s business and political elites
see their future only within Ukraine.57 While Yanukovych promised to make
Russian Ukraine’s second official language during the 2004 presidential elec-
tions,58 vice speaker of the PR in the Parliament, Yevhen Kushnariov, asserted
that there should be only one state language—Ukrainian—and the other lan-
guages should be given minority languages status, as prescribed by the European
Charter on Languages.59 Kushnariov also suggested introducing a special Ukrain-
ian language test for all government employees, as well as a 20 percent pay cut
for those who fail the test and a 30 percent pay increase for those who pass the
test and demonstrate proficiency in Ukrainian. Interestingly, the grandson of
Donetsk governor Blizniuk attends a school that uses Ukrainian as the language
of instruction, despite the fact that there are very few Ukrainian schools in the
region. At the same time, Blizniuk, who resigned from the governor’s position in
early 2005, favors autonomy for Donbass and making Russian the second state
language. Yanukovych, whose son is now an MP, addresses the Verkhovna Rada
in Ukrainian, even during the crisis of July 2006.
The dismissal of the second round election results and the authorization of
another vote frustrated the majority of Donbass’s population, but it did not take
long for them to mobilize. Donbass’s character has overcome the failure.60 The
copying of different forms of propaganda and collective action broadly used by
the organizers of the Orange Revolution, including the distribution of blue stripes
that symbolized support for Yanukovych, political leaflets, organizing meetings,
appearances in public, and speeches from an open, concert-type stage indicated
the population was politically mobilized. The anti-Yushchenko atmosphere was
supported by gossip and threats about the consequences for the region of having
Yushchenko as president. Donbass’s people previously voted for their candidate
because “he is our own” or “because the director said so, now their choice was
more conscious and explained by the logic of confrontation: “who will take over:
them or us?”
After the Constitutional Court rejected the results of the second round of the
2004 presidential elections and scheduled the revote for December 26, 2004,
Yushchenko commented that because the Orange Revolution had removed polit-
ical censorship and people of the eastern and southern regions of the country
received access to objective and unbiased information through the free press, they
would change their opinion about him.61 This statement demonstrates how unin-
formed Yushchenko and his advisors were about the situation in the pro-
Yanukovych regions. Apparently, they were inclined to believe that the votes
against Yushchenko were mostly the result of the massive propaganda of the
media, controlled by Kuchma and Yanukovych. In reality, the deep cultural divide
between the east and west of Ukraine predetermined the people’s choice. The
change of emphasis on the central TV channels after November 21 did not have
a significant influence on the people’s beliefs because they were certain that the
traitors, and first of all Kyiv bureaucrats, fooled their candidate. On the eve of the
December 26 revote, local newspapers called on people “not to trust the ‘orange’
channels,” even though there was no need for such calls, because the people of
the region do not trust the news on UT-1, Inter, Channel 5, 1+1, and others in the
same way that the “orange” electorate does not trust the news from the pro-
Yanukovych TRK Ukraine. Identifying a candidate as “our” or “stranger” seems
to work. The Donbass mentality’s inability to process information is exacerbated
by the region’s isolation. Yanukovych received essentially the same number of
votes in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts during the revote as he did during the
first and second rounds—93 and 91 percent, respectively. Data for voter turnout
in the 1999 and 2004 presidential elections are presented in table 2.62
According to the data presented in table 2, voter turnout in the 1999 and 2004
presidential elections increased between the first and second round. In the sec-
ond round of the controversial 2004 election, voter turnout in Donetsk was 96.7
percent. This unusually high-level of participation, which exceeds the national
average and level of participation in the western city of Lviv, may be partially
attributed to Yanukovych’s powerful propaganda machine. According to
Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC), 67.13 percent of registered vot-
ers participated in the 2004 election. On April 10, 2006, the CEC announced the
final results (which can be seen on the Commission’s Web site). Out of forty-five
parties, only five passed the required 3 percent electoral threshold. Comparing
the results with early polls, it was unexpected that President Yushchenko’s party,
Our Ukraine, received less than 14 percent of the national vote, much less than
the PR, and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT). The KPU received less than 4
percent of the vote and twenty-one places in the Parliament, as opposed to their
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 509
TABLE 2. Turnout in the 1999 and 2004 Presidential Elections
Turnout (%)
Year Lviv Donetsk National average
First round 78.9 66.1 70.2
Second round 85.7 77.5 73.8
First round 80.8 78.1 74.9
Second round 83.5 96.7 80.9
Source. Central Election Commission of Ukraine, (accessed
June 6, 2006).
20 percent in the 2002 elections. The March 26, 2006, parliamentary election
results are presented in table 3.63
During the beginning of Yushchenko’s presidency, no major changes in the
leadership in the east and south were made, especially on the mid- and lower-
levels. The appointment of Vadym Chuprun, Ukraine’s former ambassador to
Turkmenistan and a Donbass native, to governor of the Donetsk oblast indicates
a possible agreement between Yushchenko and the Donetsk oligarchs. Chuprun’s
relative neutrality is good for the balance of power between the center and Don-
bass’s business clan. As the Orange Revolution’s leaders were busy struggling
for positions in the new government and influence on the president, they did not
think about the future, even though they clearly understood that Donbass’s oli-
garchs would be influential in the March 2006 parliamentary elections. They did
not develop a plan that would allow them to gain more support in the east. The
elections helped the PR preserve and further strengthen its position in the region.
Only the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) and the BYuT have an active pres-
ence in Donbass. Respect for Donbass featured prominently in these parties’
political slogans. “Love Donbass! Believe in Ukraine!” was intended to show
respect to the people of Donbass, positioning the region as equal to the country.
Nevertheless, this strategy, based on the specifics of the regional mentality, did
not help, as Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine received only 1.41 percent of the votes in
the Donetsk oblast and 2.04 percent in the Luhansk oblast.
The SPU and the BYuT, who portrayed themselves as opponents of the business
clans and supporters of the region’s working class, were unsuccessful as well. Most
of the electorate voted for the PR, demonstrating that the regional agenda domi-
nates class issues. People did not vote for the Left or the Right per se, but for peo-
ple they knew and trusted, leaders who fit into their cultural and mental profile and
visionary frameworks. Dramatic elections in 2004 and 2006 have only strengthened
Donbass’s regional identity and initiated a minor refurbishing of the old stereotypes
of the “other” Ukraine. Now, in place of the “other,” a hostile entity or force is occu-
pied not only by western Ukraine, but first of all by the Orange Kyiv that contin-
TABLE 3. Results of the March 26, 2006, Parliamentary Elections
% of votes Total votes No. of
Place Party/Bloc of parties received received seats
1 Party of Regions 32.14 8,148,745 189
2 Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko 22.29 5,652,876 129
3 Bloc of Our Ukraine 13.95 3,539,140 81
4 Socialist Party of Ukraine 5.69 1,444,224 33
5 Communist Party of Ukraine 3.66 929,591 21
Source. Central Election Commission of Ukraine, (accessed
June 2006).
ues to live at the expense of the regions, damages relations with Russia, and is
preparing to sell Ukraine to NATO. The people of Donbass, as well as people in
the east and south, consider the removal of NATO troops from the Crimean penin-
sula a victory.
One of the essential features of the 2006 parliamentary elections, at least accord-
ing to the media, is the image that they were the “most democratic elections, “first
truly democratic elections in Ukraine,” “unique, and “first honest and transparent
elections in the history of Ukraine.” These types of slogans were numerous.64
Parties were unable to achieve an agreement necessary to form a coalitional
government, fighting for the seats in ministries and parliamentary commissions,
creating a weak coalition right before the deadline. Starting on June 27, 2006,
deputies/members of the PR successfully blocked the Parliament’s work for ten
days, demonstrating Donbass character. They promised to block it for a month to
cause another political crisis, and achieve new parliamentary elections. They do
not like that their leader could be fooled again by the current leadership.
Yanukovych, who uses terms such as “Donbass nation” in his rhetoric, told del-
egates from the PR in a meeting that “The road to unification of Ukraine is open.
Revolutions and demonstrations are over.”65 The situation changed again on July
17, 2006, when there was an announcement about the creation of a parliamentary
majority. This group consisted of the PR, the SPU, which supported Yushchenko
during the 2004 presidential elections, and the KPU, which remained neutral dur-
ing the 2004 presidential elections. The three parties formed a coalition and nom-
inated Yanukovych for prime minister.66 An Anti-Crisis coalition was formed and
Yushchenko nominated Yanukovych to become the prime minister. A total of 271
MPs voted for Yanukovych. With political tensions still rising, and the BYuT
threatening to withdraw its members from Verkhovna Rada, the Rada says that it
can appoint Yanukovych without Yushchenko’s approval.
After Yushchenko’s victory announcement, most of the Donbass people thought
that the victory had been stolen from them and tended to group around their
leader. Even though there were no significant demonstrations against the final
results of the elections, this does not mean that the PR had quit. In 2005,
Yanukovych had an opportunity to criticize the Cabinet of Ministers—appointed
by Yushchenko and led by Tymoshenko and then Yekhanurov (from September
2005)—and remind them, among other things, about the promised compensation
for people’s deposits to Sberbank,67 which were devalued during the reforms.
Of the twenty-nine million people who voted on December 26, four-and-a-half
million in just the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts voted for Yanukovych. Of the
twenty-five million voters who took part in the 2006 parliamentary elections,
more than eight million voted for the PR (see the Appendix for detailed statis-
tics). The results of the election clearly indicate that the political culture of Don-
bass’s population did not change and that the Donbass electorate strongly sup-
ports the PR. The PR alone received 186 of the 450 seats in the Parliament.
Yanukovych did not have central resources in these elections. Thirty-two percent
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 511
of the electorate voted for the PR, which cannot be ignored. This created an
opportunity for forming a coalition around the PR. This coalition created a gov-
ernment and Cabinet of Ministers with Yanukovych as prime minister. A package
of amendments adopted on December 8, 2004, significantly enhanced the prime
minister’s power. In any case, Donbass has become a political force. Donbass has
been isolated from the rest of Ukraine for a long time and now it will require sub-
stantial and consistent efforts to integrate the population of this Ukrainian Ruhr
into national politics and civil society.
1. Taras Kuzio, “Kravchuk to Kuchma: The 1994 Presidential Elections in Ukraine
1994,” Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 12, no. 2 (1996): 117–44;
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Papers 30, no. 2 (2002): 241–64; “The 2002 Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine: Democ-
ratization or Authoritarianism, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 19,
no. 2 (2003): 24–54; “From Kuchma to Yushchenko: Ukraine’s 2004 Presidential Elec-
tions and the Orange Revolution, Problems of Post-Communism 52, no. 2 (2005): 29–44;
“Regime Type and Politics in Ukraine under Kuchma,” Communist and Post-Communist
Studies 38 (2005): 167–90; “Russian Policy toward Ukraine During Elections, Demokra-
tizatsiya 13, no. 4 (Fall 2005): 491–514.
2. Adrian Karatnycky, “Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Foreign Affairs 84, no. 2
(March–April 2005): 35–42.
3. Kimitaka Matsuzato, “All Kuchma’s Men: The Reshuffling of Ukrainian Governors and
the Presidential Election of 1999,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 42, no. 6 (2001):
416–39; “From Communist Boss Politics to Post-Communist Caciquismo—The Meso-Elite
and Meso-Governments in Post-Communist Countries, Communist and Post-Communist
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in Rampant Clan Politics,” Demokratizatsiya 13, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 45–59.
4. Fabian Niculae and Oana Popesku, “Disputes between Ukrainian Political Elites on
the Eve of Presidential Elections in 2004, in Ukraine: A Country Torn Apart between
Europe and Russia, ed. Fabian Niculae and Oana Popesku, 112–67 (Bucuresti: Politeia-
SNSPA, 2004).
5. Stephen Shulman, “Competing versus Complementary Identities: Ukrainian-Russian
Relations and the Loyalties of Russians in Ukraine,” Nationalities Papers 26, no. 4 (1998):
615–32; “The Internal-External Nexus in the Formation of Ukrainian National Identity: The
Case for Slavic Integration, in Dilemmas of State-Led Nation Building in Ukraine,ed.
Taras Kuzio and Paul D’Anieri (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002).
6. Victor Stepanenko and Sergei Sorokopud, “The Construction of National Identity: A
Case Study of the Ukraine” in Ethnicity and Nationalism in Russia, the CIS and the Baltic
States, ed. Christopher Williams and Thanasis Sfikas, 184–210 (Aldershot: Ashgate,
1999); Victor Stepanenko, “How Ukrainians View Their Orange Revolution: Public Opin-
ion and the National Peculiarities of Citizenry Political Activities, Demokratizatsiya 13,
no. 4 (Fall 2005): 595–617.
7. A. Wilson, “The Donbass between Ukraine and Russia: The Use of History in Politi-
cal Disputes,” Journal of Contemporary History 35 no. 2, (1995): 265–90; “Ukraine’s 2002
Elections: Less Fraud, More Virtuality” East European Constitutional Review 11, no. 3
(2002): 91–98; Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).
8. Kerstin Zimmer, “Ukraine: The Donetsk Factor, Transitions Online, December 21,
2004; “The Captured Region. Actors and Institutions in the Ukrainian Donbass, in Mak-
ing Regions in Post-Socialist Europe: The Impact of History, Economic Structure and Insti-
tutions. Volume I: Case Studies from Poland, Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, ed. M.
Tatur, 231–348 (Opladen: Leske and Budrich, 2004); Kerstin Zimmer, Donetsk in Kyiv and
Kyiv in Donetsk: Center-Periphery Linkages in the Post-Soviet Context (forthcoming).
9. F. Niculae and O. Popesku, “Disputes between Ukrainian Political Elites on the Eve
of Presidential Elections in 2004,” in Ukraine: A Country Torn Apart between Europe and
Russia, ed. F. Niculae and O. Popesku, 212 (Bucuresti: Politeia-SNSPA, 2004).
10. Golos Donbassa, “Observers Have Recorded Obvious Violations of the Electoral
Process in Western Ukraine,” November 2004, 6.
11. See, for example, I. Grabovska, “Modern Ukrainians as Reflected in Light of Theirs
and Others’ Stereotypes, Suchasnist [Modernity] 9 (2004): 138–47; G. Schöpflin, “The
Political Traditions of Eastern Europe, Daedalus 119, no. 1 (2002): 55–90; R. Szporluk,
“Why Ukrainians Are Ukrainians, Transit, 23
content&task=view&id=271&Itemid=449 (accessed March 2006) (trans. into Ukrainian in
Suchasnist 4, 2003); S. Grabovski, “Ukrainians: Independent Nation or Dwellers of a Cul-
tural Ghetto?” Suchasnist 7–8 (2004): 86–100.
12. H. Kuromiya, Freedom and Terror in the Donbass. A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland
1870s–1990s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
13. I. Losev, “Ukrainians—Inner Diaspora?” Suchasnist 7–8 (2004): 101–3.
14. Interestingly, Josef Kobzon—one of the most influential members of the Donbass’s
community in Moscow—is a persona nongrata in the USA. He was an active supporter of
15. V. Litvin, “If Someone Was Violating the Law by Abusing His Public Authority, One
Must Face the Trial, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia [Weekly Mirror], January 2005.
16. Ibid.
17. See S. Shulman, “Competing versus Complementary Identities: Ukrainian-Russian
Relations and the Loyalties of Russians in Ukraine,” Nationalities Papers 26, no. 4 (1998):
615–32; S. Shulman, “The Internal-External Nexus in the Formation of Ukrainian National
Identity: The Case for Slavic Integration, in Dilemmas of State-Led Nation Building in
Ukraine, ed. T. Kuzio and P. D’Anieri, 103–30 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002).
18. It is a fact that Donbass gets more from the central budget than it contributes if one
takes into account the subsidies and tax breaks the numerous free economic zones con-
centrated in the region receive. At the same time, masterminds of Yanukovych’s presiden-
tial campaign tried to persuade people that Donbass is a major contributor to the central
19. The original Tsar Pushka—a giant canon—was made in Moscow in the sixteenth cen-
tury as a symbol of Russia’s military superiority.
20. See, for instance, J. Armstrong, “Nationalism and the East Ukrainian Social Science,”
in Ukrainian Nationalism, ed. J. Armstrong, 62–110 (Englewood, CO: Ukrainian Acade-
mic Press, 1990); Y. Hrytsak, “Dvadtsat’ Dvi Ukrainy,” [Twenty Two Ukraines] Krytyka 4
(2002): 18–32; M. Riabchuk, “Ukraine: One State, Two Countries?” Transit 23 (2002)
(accessed March 5, 2005) (trans. into Ukrainian in Suchasnist 4, 2003).
21. Armstrong, “East Ukrainian,” 207.
22. “Ukraina: Pole Mnenij,” Sociologicheskie soobshenija Fonda “Obshestvennoe mne-
nie,” 2004, 142 (as cited in Lapkin and Pantin, 2005, 8).
23. See S. Birch, Elections and Democratization in Ukraine (London: Macmillan, 2000);
P. Craumer, and J. Clem, “Ukraine’s Emerging Electoral Geography: A Regional Analy-
sis of the 1998 Parliamentary Elections, Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 40, no. 1
(1999): 1–26; O. Sushko, “The 2002 Parliamentary Elections as an Indicator of the
Sociopolitical Development of Ukraine, Demokratizatsiya 10, no. 4 (Fall 2002): 568–76;
C. Wanner, “Crafting Identity, Marking Time: An Anthropological Perspective on Nation
Building in Ukraine,” in Dilemmas of State-Led Nation Building in Ukraine, ed. T. Kuzio
and P. D’Anieri (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002).
24. S. Birch, “The Presidential Elections in Ukraine, October 1999, Electoral Studies
21, no. 2 (2002): 339–45.
25. See S. Whitmore, State-Building in Ukraine: The Ukrainian Parliament, 1990–2003
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 513
(London: Routledge Corzon, 2004).
26. V. Zablotski, “Donbass Is the Region with Character,” Golos Donbassa [Voice of
Donbass], October 2004.
27. Patronymic of Vladimir Illich Ulyanov Lenin. Patronymics are normally used as a
way of addressing good fellows or older people rather than national leaders.
28. See V. Kravchenko, “Fighting the Shadow: The Soviet Past in the Historical Memo-
ry of Contemporary Ukrainian Society, Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and
Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Space 2 (2004): 329–68.
29. V. Zablotski, “Donbass Is the Region with Character,” Golos Donbassa, October
30. See, for example, V. Zorina, “No One Put Donbass down on Its Knees, and No One
Ever Will!” Vestnik NKMZ (November 2004): 2–4.
31. K. Zimmer, “The Captured Region. Actors and Institutions in the Ukrainian Don-
bass,” in Making Regions in Post-Socialist Europe: The Impact of History, Economic Struc-
ture and Institutions. Case Studies from Poland, Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, ed. M.
Tatur, 231–348 (Opladen: Leske and Budrich, 2004).
32. “Elections 2004: The Voice of Donbass Decides,” Golos Donbassa, October 29, 2004.
33. Referring to Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko’s key ally and one of the leaders of the
Orange Revolution. Yushchenko appointed her prime minister in 2005, but later dismissed her.
34. “Elections 2004: The Voice of Donbass Decides, Golos Donbassa, November, 26
35. See, for example, I. Baboshin, “Students Are Zombyefied by Victor Yanukovych,”
Bez Tsenzury [Without Censorship], October 2004; B. Bahteev, “Silent Numbers,” Suchas-
nist 12 (2004): 155–57; A. Dorofeev, “‘New Political Nation’ or the Crowd of Reptiles,”
Vestnik NKMZ 1091 (December 2004): 3; A. Kolesnikov, Pervy Ukrainski: Zapiski s Pere-
dovoi [First Ukrainian: Notes from the Frontline] (Moskva: Vagrius, 2005); T. Steshenko,
“Saakashvili and Yushchenko—Political Twin-brothers, Golos Donbassa, November
2004, 6.
36. For details, see V. Stepanenko, “How Ukrainians View Their Orange Revolution: Pub-
lic Opinion and the National Peculiarities of Citizenry Political Activities, Demokrati-
zatsiya 13, no. 4 (Fall 2005): 595–617.
37. See, for example, T. Steshenko, “Saakashvili and Yushchenko—Political Twin-brothers,
Golos Donbassa, November 2004, 6; V. Tanskiy, “Moment of Truth: There Was a Coup d’e-
tat in Ukraine, Not a Democratic Revolution, Kramatorskaya Pravda, December 16, 2004,
1; Kramatorskaya Pravda, “Ukraine Is Threatened with Pro-American Neo-Fascist Dictator-
ship,” December 16, 2004, 3.
38. “Ukrainian Fascism—The Terrible Truth,” Golos Donbassa, October 29, 2004.
39. “The Second Round: The East against the West,” Golos Donbassa, November 2004.
40. Inform-agency, “Partaktiv, Golos Donbassa, November 2004.
41. This word is taken out of context for political reasons. Here is the objective descrip-
tion of the events. Yushchenko intended to organize an Our Ukraine meeting in Donetsk.
For this reason he had rented one of the largest concert halls in the city—Palace Yunost.
When the buses with the attendees of the meeting started to arrive, they found that there
were about five hundred drunken students of vocational schools, notorious for their disci-
pline problems. These students were let into the hall to provoke a mass fight and disorder.
Yushchenko flew to Donetsk. At the airport, thousands of students and merchants from the
flea markets and farmers markets, many of whom were forced to come by the members
of the local mafia, met him with hostility. These students and small merchants held anti-
Yushchenko posters. There were also numerous posters and billboards placed around the
city with the content that can be interpreted as “Yushchenko needs Donbass, but Donbass
does not need Yushchenko. On some posters Yushchenko was depicted a la Fuhrer. On
the others his head was drilled with a sledgehammer by a miner. Those who put it into
action were called lackeys by Yushchenko. The governor of the oblast, Blizniuk, is sus-
pected to be the organizer of this action. Apparently, Blizniuk was acting under directions
from Yanukovych.
42. “Where Is Your Character Donbass?” Golos Donbassa, November 12, 2004.
43. See I. Preobrazhenskiy, “Doctrine of Yanukovych,” Golos Donbassa, October 2004, 3.
44. “Where Is Your Character Donbass?” Golos Donbassa, November 12, 2004.
45. Ibid.
46. Offensive identity-word for Russians.
47. “Opinions,” Golos Donbassa, November 26, 2004.
48. “Vote with Donbass in Heart,” Golos Donbassa, October 8, 2004.
49. “October 31 Is the Day of Presidential Elections. Choose the Right to Live for Don-
bass,” Golos Donbassa, October 29, 2004.
50. “Donbass Is Winning. Your Voice Is Needed, Golos Donbassa, November 5, 2004.
51. “Shared Destiny. Good Choice. Donbass Will Win, Golos Donbassa, November 12,
52. “Congratulations on Your Victory! [in Russian] Congratulations on Your Victory! [in
Ukrainian]” Golos Donbassa, November 26, 2004.
53. Alluding to the “brown plague,” i.e., German fascism, and the orange color that sym-
bolized support for Yushchenko. The “brown-orange plague” expression was intended to
inflict fear of Yushchenko. Using TV and newspapers, the government-controlled mass
media painted Yushchenko as a Fascist, as part of an antidemocratic campaign that was
54. “We will survive without them, but they won’t,” i.e., “We will survive without under-
developed Western and Central pro-Yushchenko regions, but they will not be able to sur-
vive without us.
55. See M. Riabchuk, Dvi Ukrainy: Real’ni Mezhi, Virtual’ny Viiny [Two Ukraines: Real
Frontiers, Virtual Wars] (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2003).
56. V. Lapkin and V. Pantin, Assimilation of Democratic Institutions and Values by the
Ukrainian and Russian Masses,” Russian Social Science Review 47, no. 3 (2006): 10–11.
57. See Zhurzhenko, “The Myth of Two Ukraines, Transit 23 (2002)
index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=273&Itemid=451 (accessed March 2006)
(translated into Ukrainian in Suchasnist 4, 2003).
58. Newsru, “Yanukovych Promised to Give Russian Language Status of the Second
Official Language in the Country,” December 18, 2004,
world/18dec2004/yan.html (accessed July 22, 2006).
59. Newsru, “Party of Regions Can Leave Its Intent to Make Russian the Second Offi-
cial Language,” July 22, 2006,
(accessed July 22, 2006).
60. See, for instance, M. Afanasiev, “Whoever Wins, Metal Workers Lose,” Ukkrudprom,
December 12, 2004, (accessed July
22, 2006); G. Skudar, “We Are on the Pathway to Success, and We Must Not Leave It”
Kramatorskaya Pravda, December 16, 2004, 2–4.
61. See A. Shehovtsov, “‘Donetskie’ Are Coming,” Narodnaya Volia, [People’s Will]
August 14, 2004, 1; A. Shehovtsov, “Compatriots, Day without Laws, Narodnaya Volia
December 20, 2004, 2; A. Shehovtsov, “Compatriots, You Are Not Right,” Narodnaya
Volia, December 20, 2004, 1.
62. Central Election Commission of Ukraine, retrieved from
vnd2006 (accessed June 5, 2006).
63. Central Election Commission of Ukraine,
wp0011 (accessed July 12, 2005).
64. V. Tarasov, “Vybory ‘Po-kharkovski’: Mezhdometija i Epitety Pridumajte Sami”
[Elections Kharkov-style: Epithets Are up to Your Imagination], (May 2006). Retrieved
from (accessed May 30, 2006).
65. Newsru, “Party of Regions Demands from Yushchenko to Introduce Candidacy of
Yanukovych for Premiership,” July 8, 2006, /arch/worl/08Jul2006/
pobeda.html (accessed July 8, 2006).
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 515
66. Ibid.
67. Sberbank was the only bank in the Soviet Union that dealt with individual savings
accounts. The bank never went bankrupt but at the same time owes a large amount of
money to its clients. The deposits made in Soviet currency lost their value due to inflation
in the early 1990s. Debt repayment is still an important political issue, and is often used
for political purposes.
Results of the March 26, 2006, Parliamentary Elections
(Includes All Political Parties)
Parties and blocs (parties and blocs with at least
1% of the votes nationwide) Votes % Seats
Party of Regions (Partiya Regioniv) 8,148,745 32.14 186
Bloc Yuliya Tymoshenko (Blok Yuliy Tymoshenko) 5,652,876 22.29 129
All-Ukrainian United Fatherland
(Vseukrayins’ke Obyednannya Bat’kivshchyna)
Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (Ukrayins’ka
Sotsial-Demokratychna Partiya)
Bloc Our Ukraine (Blok Nasha Ukrayina) 3,539,140 13.95 81
People’s Union Our Ukraine (Narodnyi Soyuz
Nasha Ukrayina)
Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of
Ukraine (Partiya Promislovtsiv i Pidpryjemtsiv
People’s Movement of Ukraine (Narodniy Rukh
Christian Democratic Union (Khristiyans’ko-
Demokratichnyj Soyuz)
Ukrainian Republican Party Assembly
(Ukrayins’ka Respublikanska Partiya Sobor)
Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (Kongress
Ukrayins’kykh Natsionalistiv)
Socialist Party of Ukraine (Sotsialistychna Partiya
Ukrayiny) 1,444,224 5.69 33
Communist Party of Ukraine (Komunistychna
Partiya Ukrayiny) 929,591 3.66 21
People’s Opposition Bloc of Natalia Vitrenko (Blok
Natalii Vitrenko Narodna Opozytsiya) 743,704 2.93 0
Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine
(Progresivna Sotsialistychna Partiya Ukrayiny)
Party ‘“Rus’-Ukrainian Union” (Partiya
“Rus’ko-Ukrayins’kyj Soyuz” [Rus’])
Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych 517
Lytvyn’s Peoples Bloc (Narodnyi Blok Lytvyna) 619,905 2.44 0
People’s Party (Narodna Partiya)
Party of All-Ukrainian Union of the Left “Justice”
(Partiya Vseukrayins’kogo Obyednannya
Livikh “Spravedlyvist”)
Ukrainian Peasant Democratic Party (Ukrayins’ka
Selyanska Demokratychna Partiya)
Ukrainian National Bloc of Kostenko and Plyushch
(Ukrayinskyj Narodnyj Blok Kostenka i Plyushcha) 476,155 1.87 0
Party of Free Peasants and Entrepreneurs of
Ukraine (Partiya Vil’nykh Selyan i
Pidpryemtsiv Ukrayin)
Political Party Cathedral Ukraine (Politychna
Partiya “Ukrayni Soborna”)
Ukrainian People’s Party (Ukrains’ka Narodna
Viche (Council) 441,912 1.74 0
Civil Political Bloc Pora-Reforms and Order Party 373,478 1.47 0
Pora (It Is Time)
Reforms and Order Party (Partiya Reformy i
Opposition Bloc Ne Tak (Opoziciyniy Blok Ne Tak) 257,106 1.01 0
Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United)
Republican Party of Ukraine
Women for the Future All-Ukrainian Political
Political Party All-Ukrainian Union Center
Others remaining (< 1%) 1,785,299 7.04 0
Against all 449,650 1.77
Invalid ballot papers 490,595 1.93
Total 25,352,380 100 450
Source. Central Election Commission of Ukraine, (accessed
July 2006).
... In their article, Ararat [11] The newspaper also insulted Western voters of Ukraine in an article by stating: "You have not expected such a result for the first round, dear reader, have you?... The low political literacy of many western Ukrainians played a role. ...
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Information is one of the most essential components of the ongoing hybrid war in Ukraine. It is a critical mechanism for perception management which directs the masses for certain goals. This article mainly composed of two parts. The first part concentrates on media discourses in Ukraine in the prewar period. Understanding this period is a vital issue which shows how narratives about the Donbas territory contributed for isolation of the territory from the rest of Ukraine. The second part focuses on Russia's information war in Ukraine. The research argues that domestic factors (mainly media and political leaders) which constructed a perception about "exclusiveness" of the Donbas region before 2014 are exploited by Russian media during and after the Euromaidan period to support its Hybrid War in Ukraine.
... The importance of regional factors in Ukrainian domestic politics and as a factor shaping foreign policy preferences has long been recognised (Birch 2000;Kubicek 2000;Barrington 2002) but what exactly 'region' captures-ethnic, linguistic, historical, socio-economic, historical, policy cleavages, a mixture of all of these, or an additional distinctive cleavage-continues to be discussed by scholars working on contemporary Ukraine (Arel 1995(Arel , 2002(Arel , 2014O'Loughlin 2001;Shulman 2004;Barrington & Faranda 2009;Sasse 2010;Frye 2015;Onuch et al. 2018;Onuch & Hale 2018). In particular, the distinctive regional identity of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasti has been highlighted, with reference to the historical development and socioeconomic characteristics of this region, as well as its unified political outlook, at least until the Euromaidan (Osipian & Osipian 2006, 2012. We take the existence of a distinctive regional Donbas identity as a baseline for our subsequent analysis and hypothesise that the displaced from Donbas share certain norms and preferences regardless of their location. ...
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Based on original survey data, this essay analyses the political attitudes of individuals displaced by the war in eastern Ukraine. We systematically compare attitudinal differences and similarities along three axes: the displaced relative to the resident population; the displaced in Ukraine relative to the displaced in Russia; and the displaced from the (non-)government-controlled areas relative to the resident population in the (non-)government-controlled areas of Donbas. This fine-grained comparative analysis highlights the variety of attitudes held by the displaced, similarities in attitudes across displacement locations, and the effect of war casualties on attitudes and self-declared political interest.
... Kuzio (2015a) details how the political violence of the Euromaidan and Donbas conflicts evolved from lowerlevel contentious politics going back to the 1980s that deepened following the 2004 Orange Revolution and escalated thereafter between supporters and opponents of Viktor Yanukovych (Wilson, 2005;Kuzio, 2010). Before the Maidan protests began, the Donbas region provided a critical electoral base for Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, where ties to Russia were strong (Osipian & Osipian, 2006). At that time, Frye (2015) shows that economic orientation toward Europe versus Russia, rather than ethnicity or language cleavages, had become the primary point of contention between Yanukovych supporters and opponents. ...
We consider whether prior political activism increases the likelihood of engaging in higher-risk forms of violent collective action. We test our hypothesis in the context of the 2014 Euromaidan and subsequent separatist violence in Eastern Ukraine. In the aftermath of the Euromaidan protests, the Ukrainian government began a widespread campaign to mobilize young men for military service against separatist movements in the Donbas region amid escalating tensions with Russia. In July 2014, we survey young men who were volunteering to join the Ukrainian military’s counterinsurgency efforts and compare them to other young men who live in the same community but had not volunteered. Using a case control study design, we interviewed 100 young men who reported to a local Ukrainian army recruitment station in Kharkiv, a city in Eastern Ukraine which was an important center for military recruitment efforts. We compared them to 100 other young men who lived in the same communities, received recruitment notices, but had chosen not to report. Military recruits were sampled by cluster-sampling at the recruitment station, with random selection of recruits by cluster. Civilian males were sampled by random route in the vicinity of the recruitment station. When comparing survey responses between recruits and civilians, we find strong linkages between prior Euromaidan participation and military mobilization. Our results are robust to controls for parochial ethnocentrism and mere support for Euromaidan goals. Maidan participation and military mobilization are also correlated with a strong sense of self-efficacy, optimism, risk tolerance, patriotic nationalism, and feelings of in-group solidarity with protesters and the military. These correlates illustrate plausible mechanisms for how individuals could transition to increasingly higher-cost, higher-risk forms of collective action.
... The Euromaidan and the subsequent Russian actions in Crimea and the Southeast of Ukraine have spurred a dramatic shift in Ukrainian identity. Putin's call to consolidate the territories of Novorossiya had little popular appeal beyond the Donbas. 1 Many Russophone Ukrainians and ethnic Russians consciously accepted a new Ukrainian identity in 2014, while the Soviet-era identity survived in Donbas (Osipian 2014). ...
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This article attempts to measure the multilayered, diverse historical memories of contemporary Ukrainians, drawing on a cluster analysis of nationwide survey data collected after the Euromaidan. A significant minority of Ukrainian citizens still gravitate toward Soviet–Russian narratives. These are not merely copies of those embraced in Russia, however; they include ambivalent ‘hybrid’ feelings of nostalgia for the Soviet Union while supporting Ukraine's independence. This article argues that historical memories of Ukrainians in the southern and eastern regions are amorphous and heterogeneous, and that the architects of the Novorossiya project failed to distinguish Soviet nostalgia from Ukrainophobia and separatist grievances.
Technical Report
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Referring in this paper to the extraterritorial naturalization of Donbas residents en masse, passportization is one of Russia’s preeminent foreign policy tools to deepen the potentially explosive deadlock in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. In this deadlock, passportization can serve as a tool of ambiguous Russian extraterritorial governance over the Donbas while keeping violence at a comparatively low level, or as a tool to justify a full-scale Russian military intervention to "protect" its citizens from, for example, a purported "genocide." Russia does not necessarily want more citizens or territories: Russia’s ultimate goals are far-ranging security guarantees to prevent Ukraine’s further integration or membership with NATO. Passportization is one of the instruments to achieve this overarching goal. Passportization of residents of the non-government-controlled areas of the Donbas does not endow these Ukrainians with full membership of the Russian state; they are "second-class citizens" with diminished rights. This becomes especially apparent with regard to not only international non-recognition, but also pensions, social benefits, and voting rights. Due to this "diminished citizenship," Russia suffers from a legitimacy deficit in the self-proclaimed "People's Republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk - the "DPR" and "LPR." Enforcing voting rights for Donbas residents in the 2021 Duma elections therefore served the purpose of legitimizing Russia in the residents’ eyes: It suggested that integration with Russia is continuously advancing. In the 2021 Russian Duma (parliamentary) elections, the turnout among eligible passportized Donbas residents was above 40 percent. Of the roughly 200,000 voters, three quarters voted electronically at de facto polling stations (so-called "information centers") on the territory of the "DPR" and "LPR"; one quarter travelled to polling stations in the neighboring Rostov region in Russia. With the whole adult population of the "DPR" and "LPR" as a reference point, less than 10 percent of Donbas residents took part in the Duma elections. Donbas voters are pro-Russian: They have much more favorable views toward United Russia than Russians in the Rostov region. On average, the presence of Donbas residents at respective Rostov polling stations, and at the seven Rostov electoral districts, adds 25 percent to the United Russia result. This is paradoxical, as United Russia follows the official Russian reading of the Minsk Agreements - reintegration of the Donbas with Ukraine on Russian terms - while Donbas residents voted for integration with Russia. But the official results give a distorted picture of support for United Russia, as workplace mobilization and electoral manipulations were widely reported. Ukraine's policy to counteract passportization and the involvement of Ukrainian citizens in Russian elections has a legal foundation: Ukraine does not allow dual citizenship. The fast-track passports are not recognized, and passportized Donbas residents are still considered Ukrainian - and not Russian - citizens. Russian elections with the involvement of Donbas residents are declared illegal and the Russian parliament illegitimate. But beyond this legal foundation, Ukraine lacks a coherent, long-term strategy on how to reintegrate Ukrainians in the "DPR" and "LPR." The reaction of the United States and the EU to Russia's passportization has been weak; a mere non-recognition of these passports is not sufficient. Instead, the West should acknowledge that passportization and the development of Russian electoral infrastructure in the Donbas fundamentally erodes the political part of the Minsk Agreements by undermining the possibility of having free and fair local elections according to OSCE standards. The U.S. and the EU should reinvigorate their support of Ukrainian sovereignty without pushing Ukraine deeper into the "sequency trap" with political concessions. Ukraine urgently needs a coherent long-term policy toward its citizens in the non-government-controlled territories. Policy suggestions from various actors range from hawkish (stripping Donbas residents with Russian passports of Ukrainian citizenship) to conciliatory (de facto recognition of some documents issued by the "DPR" and "LPR"). This hodgepodge of proposed policy responses unmistakably sends the wrong signals to Donbas residents. Instead, Ukraine should deepen its engagement with Donbas residents by making public services more accessible, including by a speedy digital transformation of state services. Better Ukrainian public services would be a powerful tool to counteract Russia’s creeping passportization of the Donbas.
Since 2014, the Donbas region has become the front line of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists. This chapter shows how alienating once unified urban communities occur during an armed conflict in Donbas. The line of armed confrontation divided the few Donbas cities and towns. One of them is Zolote, a typical mining town. The military actions resulted in significant destruction of the urban environment and habitual way of life of th population. Part of the town is in the so-called “grey zone”, which was established in 2015. Over the following years, the grey area decreased and the likelihood of fire contact between the parties to the conflict increased. Another element that is the focus of this chapter is the town of Milove, which is located in the agrarian part of Donbas on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Mivole and Chertkovo (a town located on the Russian side) is an example of twin-towns. In Soviet times, the administrative frontier ran along the main street of Friendship of Peoples. After the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian border conflict, a fortified border appeared in the middle of this street. The population of Milove and Chertkovo felt isolated in terms of socio-economic ties.
Object of research: analysis of the works of modern foreign authors, which reflect the process of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the Donbas, which cast doubt on the European security system, has complicated the lives of millions of citizens. Clarification of the reasons that led to the amorphous national identity of the population of Donbas, rejection of Western values, mythical ideas about fascists-Banderites. Disclosure of the diversity of assessments of Western historiography regarding the origins and causes of the conflict, its nature. From a critical point of view, the work of "geopolitical realists" who are trying to minimize the Kremlin’s actions in relation to Ukraine is considered. Investigated problem: to show and prove that the revival of Russian neo-imperialism, which even after 1991 considered Ukraine a vassal, became the main external factor that led to the escalation of the conflict and its actual “freezing”. The attention is focused on the reasons for the appearance of peculiar stereotypes of thinking and behavior of residents of the Donetsk basin, contrasted with the mentality of citizens of other regions, especially Western Ukraine. The cultural-historical split of Ukraine, which developed historically, could not be the cause of the armed conflict, even with the pole opposition “Lviv-Donetsk”. Therefore, the separatist sentiments that appeared in Donbas at certain times were not a mass phenomenon even in 2014 because of this, it is impossible to explain Russian aggravation of relations between the elites of Kyiv and Donbas without analyzing external interference. The state of affairs was also aggravated by both sabotage of the Donbas elites, they did not recognize the legitimacy of the new government in Kyiv after February 2014, and by the mistakes made by the central government in Kyiv. Hasty and ill-conceived, according to Western experts, was the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a law abolishing the regional status of the Russian language. The name of the military operations from the Kyiv side as “anti-terrorist operation” was doubtful. It was changed late. Main scientific results: in fact, for the first time in the historiography of Ukraine, the latest works of Western scholars on the Ukrainian-Russian conflict have been analyzed. Conclusions are made about the inconsistency of the views of Western historians regarding the nature and causes of the conflict, the prospects for its settlement.
The end of the Cold War triggered the spread of multiparty politics across the global south and the former Soviet Union. The western democracies argued this form of governance would ensure the rule of law, human rights and constitutionalism. However, in the recent past a worrisome trend has emerged where these global powers support opposition leaders in order to oust legitimate but antagonistic elected leaders in foreign. More often than not, this political change is engineered in wanton disregard of the country’s constitution and the relevant provisions of international law. This geopolitical conundrum is portrayed by the purported ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine in 2014 and most recently President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Despite being the duly elected leaders of their respective countries, they were illegitimately ousted opposition leaders supported by western powers. In the same vein, these political changes usually initiated using force contrary to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter and other relevant principles of international law. Furthermore, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has established a concrete body of jurisprudence on this subject matter though the same is yet to be codified in international law. Broadly speaking, this paper argues this practice is unequivocally illegal and equivalent to infringement upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these countries.
This article examines the effect of shared group membership on civilian attitudes regarding insurgent forces during an armed conflict. We rely on the original survey conducted in eight towns of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in May–June 2015. Based on the bivariate and multivariate analysis of the survey results, this article finds that a sense of shared identity with rebel forces at the start of the armed conflict in Donbas had a strong independent effect on civilian views of insurgents. Those respondents who identified themselves as residents of the region were more likely to attribute ideational motives to insurgents, report no knowledge of civilian victimization caused by rebel forces, and feel secure in their presence. By contrast, respondents identifying themselves as Ukrainian citizens were more likely to attribute material motives to insurgents, indicate their responsibility for attacks against civilians, and feel intimidated during direct encounters with rebels. These findings point to broader significance of identity cleavages in explaining the Donbas conflict.
The returns of Ukraine's parliamentary elections of 31 March 2002 turned out to be too contradictory to provide grounds for final conclusions as regards the success or failure of the democratic transformation in Ukraine. In fact, the elections became only a stage of the nonuniform political process, in which modernization and democratization coexist with archaic, post-Soviet tendencies. The election campaign revealed serious deviations from standards of transparent democratic process. Yet, in general, the election results were successful because the democratic forces effectively improved their positions in parliament, although they fell short of an absolute majority of seats.
A specialist on the electoral geography of Russia and other FSU states and a political scientist with expertise on Ukraine examine the results of the March 1998 elections to the Ukrainian parliament. They focus on identifying spatial characteristics of two important elements of voting behavior-voter turnout and preference for particular political parties-and their relationships with socioeconomic and demographic variables in Ukraine's 27 administrative regions. Also subject to analysis are the regionally unbalanced weight of the vote and variations in party effectiveness (the ability of the 30 parties in the election to win seats vis-a-vis total votes).
A Japanese specialist on Ukrainian politics explores the connections between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's appointments/dismissals of regional governors since the mid- 1990s and the regional vote for Kuchma in Ukraine's 1999 presidential election. The analysis, focusing on the actions of regional elites to deliver votes through regional electoral machines, yields insights into the motivations behind the appointment and firing of governors and the ephemeral nature of the west-east axis as a phenomenon in Ukrainian electoral geography. Journal of Economic Literature, Classification Numbers: H10, O10, O18. 4 figures, 5 tables, 22 references.
The electoral triumph of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and the victory of the Ukrainian people over their country's corrupt leadership represent a new landmark in the postcommunist history of eastern Europe, a seismic shift Westward in the geopolitics of the region. But what will come next for the new president--and the rest of the former Soviet Union?